CABLE TRAY MANUAL
Based on the
2011 National Electrical Code®
C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
Table of Contents
Introduction ...MAN-3 Why Cable Tray?
Safety ... MAN-4 Dependability ... MAN-4 – MAN-5 Space Savings ... MAN-5 Cost Savings ... MAN-5 – MAN-8 An In-depth Look at the 2011 NEC®, Section 392
Types of Cable Trays (NEC®392.1 Scope) ... MAN-9 – MAN-10
EMI/RFI Cable Tray ... MAN-10 Cable Tray Materials ... MAN-11 392.2 Definition of Cable Tray System ... MAN-11 392.10 Uses for Cable Tray ... MAN-11 – MAN-16 (A) Wiring Methods and Cable Types ... MAN-12 – MAN-13 (B) Industrial Usage ... MAN-13 – MAN-14 (1) Single Conductor Cable ... MAN-13 – MAN-14 (2) Medium Voltage Cable ... MAN-14 (C) Hazardous (Classified) Locations ... MAN-14 – MAN-16 (D) Usage of Nonmetallic Tray ... MAN-16 392.12 Uses Not Permitted ... MAN-16 392.18 Cable Tray Installation ... MAN-6 – MAN-20 (A) Complete System ... MAN-6 – MAN-18 (B) Completed Before Installation ... MAN-18 (C) Covers ... MAN-19 (D) Through Partitions & Walls ... MAN-19 (E) Exposed & Accessible ... MAN-19 (F) Adequate Access ... MAN-19 (G) Raceways, Cables, Boxes, and Conduit Bodies Supported
from Cable Tray Systems ... MAN-19 – MAN-20 392.20 Cables and Conduit Installation ... MAN-21 – MAN-22 (A) Multiconductor Cables, 600V or less ... MAN-21 (B) Cables Rated over 600V ... MAN-21 (C) Connected in Parallel ... MAN-21 – MAN-22 (D) Single Conductor ... MAN-22 392.22 Number of Conductor of Cable ... MAN-23 – MAN-26 392.30 Securing and Supporting Cables and Conductors ... MAN-26 392.46 Bushed Conduit and Tubing ... MAN-27 392.56 Cable Splices ... MAN-27 392.60 Grounding and Bonding ... MAN-28 – MAN-31 392.80 Ampacity of Conductors ... MAN-31 – MAN-33 392.100 Construction Specifications ... MAN-33 – MAN-35 (A) Strength and Rigidity ... MAN-33 – MAN-35 (B) Smooth Edges ... MAN-35 (C) Corrosion Protection ... MAN-35 (D) Siderails ... MAN-35 (E) Fittings ... MAN-35 (F) Nonmetallic Cable Tray ... MAN-35 Cable Tray Wiring System Design and Installation Hints ... MAN-36 Cable Tray Accessories ... MAN-37 Fireproofing Tray ... MAN-37 Cable Tray Maintenance & Repair ... MAN-37 Expansion and Contraction ... MAN-38 – MAN-39 Appendix Index & Appendix Sheets ... MAN-40 – MAN-47 Cable Tray Sizing Flowchart ... MAN-48 – MAN-49 Cable Tray Installation & Specification Checklists ... MAN-50 – MAN-51 Footnotes ...MAN-52 C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
The B-Line Cable Tray Manual was produced by B-Line's technical staff. B-Line has recognized
the need for a complete cable tray reference source for electrical engineers and designers. The
following pages address the 2011 National Electrical Code®
requirements for cable tray systems as
well as design solutions from practical experience. The information has been organized for use as a
reference guide for both those unfamiliar and those experienced with cable tray.
Nearly every aspect of cable tray design and installation has been explored for the use of the
reader. If a topic has not been covered sufficiently to answer a specific question or if additional
information is desired, contact the engineering department at B-Line. We sincerely hope you will find
the B-Line Cable Tray Manual a helpful and informative addition to your technical library.
The information contained herein has been carefully checked for accuracy and is believed to be
correct and current. No warranty, either expressed or implied, is made as to either its applicability
to, or its compatibility with, specific requirements, of this information, nor for damages consequent
to its use. All design characteristics, specifications, tolerances and similar information are subject to
change without notice.
Eaton’s B-Line Business
509 West Monroe Street
Highland, IL 62249-0326
Tel: (800) 851-7415
NFPA 70®- 2008, National Electrical Code®and NEC®are registered trademarks of the
National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA.
C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
Reproduced with permission from NFPA 70®-2011, National Electrical Code®, Copyright © 2010, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA. This reprinted material is not the complete and official position of the NFPA on the referenced sub-ject, which is represented only by the standard in its entirety.
Large numbers of electrical engineers have limited detail knowledge concerning wiring systems. There is the tendency by engineers to avoid becoming involved in the details of wiring systems, leaving the wiring system selection and design to designers or contractors. Certain decisions must be made for any wiring system installation, and these decisions should be made in the design and construction activities' chain where maximum impact is achieved at the lowest possible cost. Deferring design decisions to construction can result in increased costs and wiring systems incompatible with the owner's future requirements. Early in the project's design life, the costs and features of various applicable wiring systems should be objectively evaluated in detail. Unfortunately, such evaluations are often not made because of the time and money involved. It is important to realize that these initial evaluations are important and will save time and money in the long run. The evaluation should include the safety, dependability, space and cost requirements of the project. Many industrial and commercial electrical wiring systems have excessive initial capital costs, unnecessary power outages and require excessive maintenance. Moreover, the wiring system may not have the features to easily accommodate system changes and expansions, or provide the maximum degree of safety for the personnel and the facilities.
Cable tray wiring systems are the preferred wiring system when they are evaluated against equivalent conduit wiring systems in terms of safety, dependability, space and cost. To properly evaluate a cable tray wiring system vs. a conduit wiring system, an engineer must be knowledgeable of both their installation and the system features. The advantages of cable tray installations are listed below and explained in the following paragraphs.
• Safety Features • Dependability • Space Savings • Cost Savings
• Design Cost Savings • Material Cost Savings
• Installation Cost & Time Savings • Maintenance Savings
CABLE TRAY SAFETY FEATURES
A properly engineered and installed cable tray wiring system provides some highly desirable safety features that are not obtainable with a conduit wiring system.
• Tray cables do not provide a significant path for the transmission of corrosive, explosive, or toxic gases while conduits do. There have been explosions in
industrial facilities in which the conduit systems were a link in the chain of events that set up the conditions for the explosions. These explosions would not have occurred with a cable tray wiring system since the explosive gas would not have been piped into a critical area. This can occur even though there are seals in the conduits. There does have to be some type of an equipment failure or abnormal condition for the gas to get into the conduit, however this does occur. Conduit seals prevent explosions from traveling down the conduit (pressure piling) but they do not seat tight enough to prevent moisture or gas migration until an explosion or a sudden pressure increase seats them. The October 6, 1979 Electrical Substation Explosion at the Cove Point, Maryland Columbia Liquefied Natural Gas Facility is a very good example of where explosive gas traveled though a two hundred foot long conduit with a seal in it. The substation was demolished, the foreman was killed and an operator was badly burned. This explosion wouldn’t have occurred if a cable tray wiring system had been installed instead of a conduit wiring system. A New Jersey chemical plant had the instrumentation and electrical equipment in one of its control rooms destroyed in a similar type incident.
• In addition to explosive gases, corrosive gases and toxic gases from chemical plant equipment failures can travel through the conduits to equipment or control rooms where the plant personnel and the sensitive equipment will be exposed to the gases.
• In facilities where cable tray may be used as the equipment grounding conductor in accordance with
NEC® Sections 392.60(A) & 392.60(B), the grounding
equipment system components lend themselves to visual inspection as well as electrical continuity checks.
CABLE TRAY DEPENDABILITY
A properly designed and installed cable tray system with the appropriate cable types will provide a wiring system of outstanding dependability for the control, communication, data handling, instrumentation, and power systems. The dependability of cable tray wiring systems has been proven by a 40 year track record of excellent performance.
• Cable tray wiring systems have an outstanding record for dependable service in industry. It is the most common industrial wiring system in Europe. In continuous process systems, an electrical system failure can cost millions of dollars and present serious process safety problems for the facility, its personnel and the people in the surrounding communities. A properly designed and installed cable tray system with the appropriate cable types will provide a wiring system of outstanding dependability for process plants.
WHY CABLE TRAY?
BECAUSE A CABLE TRAY WIRING SYSTEM PROVIDES SAFE AND DEPENDABLE WAYS TO SAVE NOW AND LATER
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• Television broadcast origination facilities and studios make use of cable tray to support and route the large volumes of cable needed for their operations with a high degree of dependability. It would be impossible to have the wiring system flexibility they need with a conduit wiring system.
• Large retail and warehouse installations use cable tray to support their data communication cable systems. Such systems must be dependable so that there are no outages of their continuous inventory control systems.
• Cable tray wiring systems have been widely used to support cabling in both commercial and industrial computer rooms overhead and beneath the floor to provide orderly paths to house and support the cabling. These types of installations need a high degree of dependability which can be obtained using cable tray wiring systems.
CABLE TRAY SPACE SAVINGS
When compared to a conduit wiring system, an equivalent cable tray wiring system installation requires substantially less space.
Increasing the size of a structure or a support system to handle a high space volume conduit wiring system is unnecessary when this problem can be avoided by the selection of a cable tray wiring system.
• Facilities with high density wiring systems devoted to control, instrumentation, data handling and branch circuit wiring have the choice of selecting cable tray or conduit wiring systems. A conduit wiring system is often a poor choice because large conduit banks require significant space, competing with other systems and equipment. Choosing a cable tray wiring system greatly reduces this problem.
• Financial institutions with large computer installations have high density wiring systems under floors or in overhead plenum areas that are best handled by cable tray wiring systems.
• Airport facilities have extensive cable tray wiring systems to handle the ever expanding needs of the airline industry.
• Cable tray is used in many facilities because of the ever present need of routing more and more cables in less space at lower costs.
• Large health care facilities have high density wiring systems that are ideal candidates for cable tray.
CABLE TRAY WIRING SYSTEM COST SAVINGS
Usually, the initial capital cost is the major factor in selecting a project's wiring system when an evaluation is made comparing cable tray wiring systems and conduit wiring systems. Such an evaluation often covers
just the conductors, material, and installation labor costs. The results of these initial cost evaluations usually show that the installed cable tray wiring system will cost 10 to 60 percent less than an equivalent conduit wiring system. The amount of cost savings depends on the complexity and size of the installation.
There are other savings in addition to the initial installation cost savings for cable tray wiring systems over conduit wiring systems. They include reduced engineering costs, reduced maintenance costs, reduced expansion costs, reduced production losses due to power outages, reduced environmental problems due to continuity of power and reduced data handling system costs due to the continuity of power. The magnitudes of many of these costs savings are difficult to determine until the condition exists which makes them real instead of potential cost savings.
DESIGN COST SAVINGS
• Most projects are roughly defined at the start of design. For projects that are not 100 percent defined before design start, the cost of and time used in coping with continuous changes during the engineering and drafting design phases will be substantially less for cable tray wiring systems than for conduit wiring systems. A small amount of engineering is required to change the width of a cable tray to gain additional wiring space capacity. Change is a complex problem when conduit banks are involved.
• The final drawings for a cable tray wiring system may be completed and sent out for bid or construction more quickly than for a conduit wiring system. Cable tray simplifies the wiring system design process and reduces the number of details.
• Cable tray wiring systems are well suited for computer aided design drawings. A spread sheet based wiring management program may be used to control the cable fills in the cable tray. While such a system may also be used for controlling conduit fill, large numbers of individual conduits must be monitored. For an equal capacity wiring system, only a few cable tray runs would have to be monitored.
• Dedicated cable tray installation zones alert other engineering disciplines to avoid designs that will produce equipment and material installation conflicts in these areas. As more circuits are added, the cable tray installation zone will increase only a few inches; the space required for the additional conduits needed would be much greater.
• The fact that a cable can easily enter and exit
cable tray anywhere along its route, allows for some
unique opportunities that provide highly flexible designs. • Fewer supports have to be designed and less coordination is required between the design disciplines for the cable tray supports compared to conduit supports. C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
• Excluding conductors, the cost of the cable trays, supports, and miscellaneous materials will provide a savings of up to 80% as compared to the cost of the conduits, supports, pull boxes, and miscellaneous materials. An 18 inch wide cable tray has an allowable fill area of 21 square inches. It would take 7 - 3 inch conduits to obtain this allowable fill area (7 x 2.95 square inches = 20.65 square inches).
• The cost of 600 volt insulated multiconductor cables listed for use in cable tray is greater than the cost of 600 volt insulated individual conductors used in conduit. The cost differential depends on the insulation systems, jacket materials and cable construction.
• For some electrical loads, parallel conductors are installed in conduit and the conductors must be derated, requiring larger conductors to make up for the deration. If these circuits were installed in cable tray, the conductor sizes would not need to be increased since the parallel conductor derating factors do not apply to three conductor or single conductor cables in cable tray.
• Typical 300 volt insulated multiconductor
instrumentation tray cables (ITC) and power limited tray cables (PLTC) cost the same for both cable tray and conduit wiring systems. This applies for instrumentation circuits, low level analog and digital signal circuits, logic input/output (I/O) circuits, etc. There are other cable tray installations which require a higher cost cable than the equivalent conduit installation. Such installations are limited to areas where low smoke emission and/or low flame spread ITC or PLTC cables must be used.
• Conduit banks often require more frequent and higher strength supports than cable trays. 3 inch and larger rigid metal conduits are the only sizes allowed to be supported on 20 foot spans.
• When a cable tray width is increased 6 inches, the cable tray cost increase is less than 10 percent. This substantially increases the cable tray’s wiring capacity for a minimal additional cost. To obtain such an increase in capacity for a conduit wiring system would be very costly. 40000 35000 30000 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 Total Installed Cost ($)
COST - Cable Tray vs. Conduit
(Equivalent Conductor Fill Areas)
Material Cost Labor Cost @ $60/hr per NECA labor units. Aluminum Ladder Cable Tray Steel Ladder Cable Tray Solid Bottom Cable Tray
EMT Rigid Steel
Installation: 200 linear feet of cable supported with four 90° direction changes and all trapeze supports on 8 ft. spans.
1. Aluminum, 18" wide, ladder cable tray (9" rung spacing) with all hardware.
2. Hot dip galvanized steel, 18" wide, ladder cable tray (9" rung spacing) with all hardware. 3. Hot dip galvanized steel, 18" wide, solid bottom cable tray and all hardware.
4. 7 parallel runs of 3" diameter EMT with concentric bends.
5. 7 parallel runs of 3" diameter galvanized conduit with concentric bends.
Note: Above costs do not include cable and cable pulling costs. Cable costs differ per installation and cable/conductor pulling costs have been shown to be considerably less for cable tray than for conduit.
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INSTALLATION COST AND TIME SAVINGS
• Depending on the complexity and magnitude of the wiring system, the total cost savings for the initial installation (labor, equipment and material) may be up to 75 percent for a cable tray wiring system over a conduit wiring system. When there are banks of conduit to be installed that are more than 100 feet long and consist of four or more 2 inch conduits or 12 or more smaller conduits, the labor cost savings obtained using cable tray wiring systems are very significant.
• Many more individual components are involved in the installation of a conduit system and its conductors compared to the installation of a cable tray system and its cables. This results in the handling and installing of large amounts of conduit items vs. small amounts of cable tray items for the same wiring capacity.
• The higher the elevation of the wiring system, the more important the number of components required to complete the installation. Many additional man-hours will be required just moving the components needed for the conduit system up to the work location.
• Conduit wiring systems require pull boxes or splice boxes when there is the equivalent of more than 360 degrees of bends in a run. For large conductors, pull or junction boxes may be required more often to facilitate the conductor’s installation. Cable tray wiring systems do not require pull boxes or splice boxes.
• Penetrating a masonry wall with cable tray requires a smaller hole and limited repair work.
• More supports are normally required for rigid steel
conduit due to the requirements of NEC® Table
• Concentric conduit bends for direction changes in conduit banks are very labor intensive and difficult to make. However if they are not used, the installation will be unattractive. The time required to make a concentric bend is increased by a factor of 3-6 over that of a single shot bend. This time consuming practice is eliminated when cable tray wiring systems are used.
• Conductor pulling is more complicated and time consuming for conduit wiring systems than for cable tray wiring systems. Normally, single conductor wire pulls for conduit wiring systems require multiple reel setups. For conduit wiring systems, it is necessary to pull from termination equipment enclosure to termination equipment enclosure. Tray cables being installed in cable trays do not have to be pulled into the termination equipment enclosures. Tray cable may be pulled from near the first termination enclosure along the cable tray route to near the second termination enclosure. Then, the tray cable is inserted into the equipment enclosures for termination. For projects with significant numbers of large conductors terminating in switchgear, this may be a very desirable feature that can save hours of an electrician's time. Unnecessary power outages can be eliminated since tray cable pulls may be made without
de-energizing the equipment. For conduit installations, the equipment will have to be de-energized for rubber safety blanketing to be installed, otherwise the conductor pulls might have to be made on a weekend or on a holiday at premium labor costs to avoid shutting down production or data processing operations during normal working hours.
• Conductor insulation damage is common in conduits since jamming can occur when pulling the conductors. Jamming is the wedging of conductors in a conduit when three conductors lay side by side in a flat plane. This may occur when pulling around bends or when the conductors twist. Ninety-two percent of all conductor failures are the result of the conductor’s insulation being damaged during the conductor’s installation. Many common combinations of conductors and conduits fall into critical jam ratio values. Critical jam ratio (J.R.= Conduit ID/Conductor OD) values range from 2.8 to 3.2. The J. R. for 3 single conductor THHN/THWN
insulated 350 kcmil conductors in a 21/2 inch conduit
would be 3.0 (2.469 inches/ 0.816 inches). If conductor insulation damage occurs, additional costs and time are required for replacing the conductors. This cannot occur in a cable tray wiring system.
• Smaller electrician crews may be used to install the equivalent wiring capacity in cable tray. This allows for manpower leveling, the peak and average crew would be almost the same number, and the electrician experience level required is lower for cable tray installations.
• Since the work is completed faster there is less work space conflict with the other construction disciplines. This is especially true if installations are elevated and if significant amounts of piping are being installed on the project.
• One of the most important features of cable tray is that tray cable can easily be installed in existing trays if there is space available. Cable tray wiring systems allow wiring additions or modifications to be made quickly with minimum disruption to operations. Any conceivable change that is required in a wiring system can be done at lower cost and in less time for a cable tray wiring system than for a conduit wiring system.
• Moisture is a major cause of electrical equipment and material failures. Breathing due to temperature cycling results in the conduits accumulating relatively large amounts of moisture. The conduits then pipe this moisture into the electrical equipment enclosures which over a period of time results in the deterioration of the equipment insulation systems and their eventual failure. Also, moisture may become a factor in the corrosion failure of some of the critical electrical equipment's metallic components. Conduit seals are not effective in blocking the movement of moisture. The conduit systems may be designed to reduce the moisture
C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
problems but not to completely eliminate it. Few designers go into the design detail necessary to reduce the effects of moisture in the conduit systems. Tray cables do not provide internal moisture paths as do conduits.
• In the event of external fires in industrial installations, the damage to the tray cable and cable tray is most often limited to the area of the flame contact plus a few feet on either side of the flame contact area. For such a fire enveloping a steel conduit bank, the steel conduit is a heat sink and the conductor insulation will be damaged for a considerable distance inside the conduit. Thermoplastic insulation may be fused to the steel conduit and the conduit will need to be replaced for many feet. This occurred in an Ohio chemical plant and the rigid steel conduits had to be replaced for 90 feet. Under such conditions, the repair cost for fire damage would normally be greater for a conduit wiring system than for cable tray and tray cable. In the Ohio chemical plant fire, there were banks of conduits and runs of cable tray involved. The cable tray wiring systems were repaired in two days. The conduit wiring systems were repaired in six days and required a great deal more manpower.
• In the event of an external fire, the conduit becomes a heat sink and an oven which decreases the time required for the conductor insulation systems to fail. The heat decomposes the cable jackets and the conductor insulation material. If these materials contain PVC as do most cables, hydrogen chloride vapors will come out the ends of the conduits in the control rooms. These fumes are very corrosive to the electronic equipment. They are also hazardous to personnel. A flame impingement on a cable tray system will not result in the fumes going into the control room as there is no containment path for them. They will be dispersed into the atmosphere.
IN MOST CASES AN OBJECTIVE EVALUATION OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR MOST HIGH DENSITY WIRING SYSTEMS WILL SHOW THAT A CABLE TRAY WIRING SYSTEM PROVIDES A WIRING SYSTEM SUPERIOR TO A CONDUIT WIRING SYSTEM.
Easily identified, marked, or removed - all possible from an open Cable Tray System
For the 2002 National Electrical Code, several proposals were submitted to the NFPA to revise the 1999
NEC®for Articles 300, 640, 645, 725, 760, 770, 800, 820,
and 830 to require all abandoned cables to be removed from plenum spaces.
The purpose of the proposals is to remove the cables as a source of excess combustibles from plenums and other confined spaces such as raised floors and drop ceilings. All of the Code Making Panels agreed that this should be acceptable practice except Code Making Panel 3, which oversees Article 300.
Because Article 300 is exempt from this requirement only low-voltage and communication cables are affected. Each Article adopted a definition of abandoned cables and the rule for removal. The general consensus is that abandoned cable is cable that is not terminated at equipment or connectors and is not identified for future
use with a tag. Please refer to each individual NEC®
Article for specifics.
Having to tag, remove, or rearrange cables within an enclosed raceway can be a time consuming and difficult job. Without being able to clearly see the cables and follow their exact routing throughout a facility, identifying abandoned cables would be very difficult and expensive. With the open accessibility of cable tray, these changes can be implemented with ease. Abandoned cables can be identified, marked, rearranged, or removed with little or no difficulty.
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Of the types of cable trays listed in this section, ladder cable tray is the most widely used type of cable tray due to several very desirable features.
• The rungs provide a convenient anchor for tying down cables in vertical runs or where the positions of the cables must be maintained in horizontal runs.
• Cables may exit or enter through the top or the bottom of the tray.
• A ladder cable tray without covers provides for the maximum free flow of air, dissipating heat produced in current carrying conductors.
• Moisture cannot accumulate in ladder cable trays and be piped into electrical equipment as happens in conduit systems.
• Ladder cable tray cannot pipe hazardous or explosive gases from one area to another as happens with conduit systems.
• In areas where there is the potential for dust to accumulate, ladder cable trays should be installed. The dust buildup in ladder cable trays will be less than the dust buildup in ventilated trough or solid bottom cable trays.
Ladder cable trays are available in widths of 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, and 42 inches with rung spacings of 6, 9, 12, or 18 inches. Wider rung spacings and wider cable tray widths decrease the overall strength of the cable tray. Specifiers should be aware that some cable tray manufacturers do not account for this load reduction in their published cable tray load charts. B-Line uses stronger rungs in wider cable trays to safely bear the loads published.
With one exception, the specifier selects the rung spacing that he or she feels is the most desirable for the installation. The exception is that 9 inches is the maximum allowable rung spacing for a ladder cable tray supporting any 1/0 through 4/0 single conductor cables [See Section 392.10(B)(1)(a)].
Where the ladder cable tray supports small diameter multiconductor control and instrumentation cables; 6, 9, or 12 inch rung spacings should be specified. Quality Type TC, Type PLTC, or Type ITC small diameter multiconductor control and instrumentation cables will not be damaged due to the cable tray rung spacing selected, but the installation may not appear neat if there is significant drooping of the cables between the rungs. For ladder cable trays supporting large power cables, 9 inch or wider rung spacings should be selected. For many installations, the cable trays are routed over the top of a motor control center (MCC) or switchgear enclosure. Cables exit out the bottom of the cable trays and into the top of the MCC or switchgear enclosure. For
these installations, the cable manufacturer's
recommended minimum bending radii for the specific cables must not be violated. If the rung spacing is too close, it may be necessary to remove some rungs in order to maintain the proper cable bending radii. This construction site modification can usually be avoided by selecting a cable tray with 12 or 18 inch rung spacing.
If you are still uncertain as to which rung spacing to specify, 9 inch rung spacing is the most common and is used on 80% of the ladder cable tray sold.
The 1999 NEC®added the word ‘ventilated’ in front of
trough to clear up some confusion that solid trough is treated the same as ventilated trough. It is not. Solid trough is recognized as solid bottom cable tray.
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT 2011 NEC®
ARTICLE 392 - CABLE TRAY
(The following code explanations are to be used with a copy of the 2011 NEC®.)
To obtain a copy of the NEC®contact:
National Fire Protection Association®
1 Batterymarch Park • P.O. Box 9101 Quincy, Massachusetts 02269-9101
Standard Aluminum Ladder
Steel Ventilated Trough
C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
Ventilated trough cable tray is often used when the specifier does not want to use ladder cable tray to support small diameter multiconductor control and instrumentation cables. As no drooping of the small diameter cables is visible, ventilated trough cable trays provide neat appearing installations. Small diameter cables may exit the ventilated trough cable tray through the bottom ventilation holes as well as out the top of the cable tray. For installations where the cables exit the bottom of the cable tray and the system is subject to some degree of vibration, it is advisable to use B-Line Trough Drop-Out Bushings (Cat. No. 99-1124). These snap-in bushings provide additional abrasion protection for the cable jackets. Just as for ladder cable tray, ventilated trough cable tray will not pipe moisture into electrical equipment.
Standard widths for ventilated trough cable tray systems are 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 inches. The standard bottom configuration for ventilated trough cable
tray is a corrugated bottom with 27/8 inch bearing
surfaces - 6 inches on centers and 21/4inch x 4 inch
ventilation openings. Since a corrugated bottom cannot be bent horizontally, the standard bottom configuration for horizontal bend fittings consists of rungs spaced on 4 inch centers. This difference in bottom construction may be objectionable to some owners, so be sure you are aware of the owner's sensitivity to aesthetics for the cable tray installation.
Channel cable tray systems (B-Line cable channel) are available in 3, 4, and 6 inch widths with ventilated or
solid bottoms. The NEC®now recognizes solid bottom
cable channel. Prior to the 2002 Code, the NEC®did not have any specific provisions for the use of solid cable channel.
Instead of large conduits, cable channel may be used very effectively to support cable drops from the cable tray run to the equipment or device being serviced and is ideal for cable tray runs involving a small number of cables. Cable channel may also be used to support push buttons, field mounted instrumentation devices, etc. Small diameter cables may exit ventilated cable channel through the bottom ventilation holes, out the top or through the end. For installations where the cables exit through the ventilation openings and the cable channel or the cables are subject to some degree of vibration, it is advisable to use B-Line Cable Channel Bushings (Cat. No. 99-1125). These snap-in plastic bushings provide additional abrasion protection for the cable jackets.
Some specifiers prefer solid bottom cable tray to support large numbers of small diameter control and multiconductor instrumentation cables. Solid bottom steel cable trays with solid covers and wrap around cover clamps can be used to provide EMI/RFI shielding protection for sensitive circuits.
Unlike ladder and ventilated trough cable trays, solid bottom cable trays can collect and retain moisture. Where they are installed outdoors or indoors in humid locations and EMI/RFI shielding protection is not
required, it is recommended that 1/4inch weep holes be
drilled in their bottoms at the sides and in the middle every 3 feet to limit water accumulation.
The words "and other similar structures." were incorporated in Section 392.1 for future types of cable tray that might be developed, such as center supported type cable tray. All the technical information developed
by the 1973 NEC® Technical Subcommittee on Cable
Tray for Article 318 - Cable Trays was based on cable trays with side rails and this technical information is still
the basis for the 2011 NEC®Article 392 - Cable Trays.
The standard lengths for cable trays are 10, 12, 20 and 24 feet (consult B-Line for the availability of nonstandard cable tray lengths). Selecting a cable tray length is based on several criteria. Some of these criteria include the required load that the cable tray must support, the distance between the cable tray supports, and ease of handling and installation. One industry standard that is
strongly recommended is that only one cable tray splice be placed between support spans and, for long
span trays, that they ideally be place at 1/4-span. This
automatically limits the length of tray you choose, as the tray must be longer than or equal to the support span you have selected. Matching the tray length to your
Vent. Channel Cable Tray (B-Line Cable Channel)
Aluminum Solid Bottom Trough
Center Supported Cable Tray (B-Line Cent-R-Rail System)
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support span can help ensure that your splice locations are controlled.
Cable trays can be organized into 4 categories: Short Span, Intermediate Span, Long Span, and Extra-Long Span.
Short Span trays, typically used for non-industrial indoor installations, are usually supported every 6 to 8 feet, while Intermediate Span trays are typically supported every 10 to 12 feet. A 10 or 12 foot cable tray is usually used for both of these types of installations. To keep from allowing two splices to occur between supports, a 12 foot tray should be used for any support span greater than 10 feet, up to 12 feet. Placing the cable
tray splices at 1/4-span is not critical in a short or
intermediate span application given that most trays have sufficiently strong splice plates.
In an indoor industrial installation 10 or 12 foot tray sections may be easier to handle and install as you may have piping or ducting to maneuver around. However, using 20 foot instead of 12 foot straight sections may provide labor savings during installation by reducing the number of splice joints. If this is done, the selected tray system should meet the loading requirements for the support span you are using. If you are interested in supporting 100 lbs/ft and you are buying 20 foot tray sections while supporting it every 12 feet, it isn’t necessary to specify a NEMA 20C tray (100 lbs/ft on a 20 foot span). A NEMA 20A tray (50 lbs/ft on a 20 foot span) will support over 130 lbs/ft when supported on a 12 ft span with a safety factor of 1.5. Specifying a 20C tray is not an economical use of product. If you desire to use 20 foot sections of cable tray, it makes more sense to increase your support span up to 20 feet. This not only saves labor by decreasing the number of splices, but also by decreasing the number of supports that must be installed.
Long Span trays are typically supported anywhere from 14 to 20 foot intervals with 20 feet being the most popular. In long span situations, the placement of the
splice locations at 1/4-span becomes much more
important. Matching the tray length to your support span can help control your splice locations.
Extra-Long Span trays are supported on spans exceeding 20 feet. Some outdoor cable tray installations may have to span anywhere from 20 to 30 feet to cross roads or to reduce the number of expensive outdoor supports. The distance between supports affects the tray strength exponentially; therefore the strength of the cable tray system selected should be designed around the specific support span chosen for that run.
[See Section 392.100(A) on page 431 for additional information on cable tray strength and rigidity.]
B-Line has many cataloged fittings and accessory items for ladder, ventilated trough, ventilated channel, and solid bottom cable trays which eliminate the need for the costly field fabrication of such items. When prop-erly selected and installed, these factory fabricated
fittings and accessories improve the appearance of the cable tray system in addition to reducing labor costs.
Cable Tray Materials
Metallic cable trays are readily available in aluminum, pregalvanized steel, hot-dip galvanized after fabrication, and stainless steel. Aluminum cable tray should be used for most installations unless specific corrosion problems prohibit its use. Aluminum's light weight significantly reduces the cost of installation when compared to steel.
A fine print note is included in the 2005 NEC®that
references the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) documents for further information on cable tray. These documents: ANSI/NEMA VE-1, Metal Cable Tray Systems; NEMA VE-2, Cable Tray Installation Guidelines; and NEMA FG-1, Non Metallic Cable Tray Systems, are an excellent industry resource in the application, selection, and installation of cable trays both metallic and non metallic. Contact B-Line for more information concerning these helpful documents.
392.2. Definition. Cable Tray System.
This section states that cable tray is a rigid structural support system used to securely fasten or support cables and raceways. Cable trays are not raceways. Cable trays are mechanical supports just as strut
systems are mechanical supports. NEC® Article 392
-Cable Trays is an article dedicated to a type of mechanical support. It is very important that the personnel involved with engineering and installing cable tray utilize it as a mechanical support system and not attempt to utilize it as a raceway system. There are items
in the NEC®that apply to raceways and not to cable tray.
There are also items in the NEC®that apply to cable tray
and not to raceways. These differences will be covered at the appropriate locations in this manual.
392.10. Uses Permitted. Cable tray installations shall not be limited to industrial establishments.
The text in Section 392.10 clearly states that cable tray may be used in non-industrial establishments. The use of cable tray should be based on sound engineering and economic decisions.
For clarity, the NEC®now lists all types of circuits to
explicitly permit their use in cable trays. These circuit types include: services, feeders, branch circuits, communication circuits, control circuits, and signaling circuits.
The 2002 NEC®also added a new requirement that
where cables in tray are exposed to the direct rays of the sun, they shall be identified as sunlight resistant for all occupancies, not just industrial.
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392.10. Uses Permitted. (A) Wiring Methods.
This section identifies the 300 & 600 volt multi-conductor cables that may be supported by cable tray. The "Uses Permitted" or "Uses Not Permitted" sections
in the appropriate NEC®cable articles provide the details
as to where that cable type may be used. Where the cable type may be used, cable tray may be installed to support it except as per Section 392.12 which states that cable trays shall not be installed in hoistways or where subject to severe physical damage. Where not subject to severe physical damage, cable tray may be used in any hazardous (classified) area to support the appropriate cable types in accordance with the installation
requirements of the various Articles that make up NEC®
Chapter 5 or in any non-hazardous (unclassified) area.
It should be noted that Section 300.8 of the NEC®
states that cable trays containing electric conductors cannot contain any other service that is not electrical. This includes any pipe or tube containing steam, water, air, gas or drainage.
For commercial and industrial cable tray wiring systems: Type ITC, Type MC, Type TC, and Type PLTC multiconductor cables are the most commonly used cables. Type MI and Optical-Fiber cables are special application cables that are desirable cables for use in some cable tray wiring systems. The following paragraphs provide information and comments about these cable types.
Type MI Cable: Mineral-Insulated, Metal Sheathed Cable (Article 332). This cable has a liquid and gas tight continuous copper sheath over its copper conductors and magnesium oxide insulation. Developed in the late 1920's by the French Navy for submarine electrical wiring systems, properly installed MI cable is the safest electrical wiring system available. In Europe, Type MI cable has had a long, successful history of being installed (with PVC jackets for corrosion protection) in cable trays as industrial wiring systems. This cable may be installed in hazardous (classified) areas or in non-hazardous (unclassified) areas. The single limitation on the use of Type MI cable is that it may not be used where it is exposed to destructive corrosive conditions unless protected by materials suitable for the conditions. Type MI cable without overall nonmetallic coverings may be installed in ducts or plenums used for environmental air and in other space used for environmental air in accordance with Sections 300.22(B) and (C). Cable tray may be installed as a support for Type MI cable in any location except where the cable is installed in a hoistway. Section 332-30 states that MI cable shall be securely supported at intervals not exceeding 6 feet (1.83 m). Type MI cable has a UL two hour fire resistive rating when properly installed. An installation requirement for this rating is that the cable be securely supported every 3 feet. Steel or stainless steel cable trays should be used to support Type MI cable being used for critical circuit service. During severe fire conditions, steel or stainless steel cable tray will remain intact and provide support longer than aluminum or fiberglass reinforced plastic cable trays.
Type MC Cable: Metal-clad cable (Article 330). There are large amounts of Type MC cable installed in industrial plant cable tray systems. This cable is often used for feeder and branch circuit service and provides excellent service when it is properly installed. The metallic sheath may be interlocking metal tape or it may be a smooth or corrugated metal tube. A nonmetallic jacket is often extruded over the aluminum or steel sheath as a corrosion protection measure. Regular MC cable, without nonmetallic sheath, may be supported by cable tray in any hazardous (classified) area except Class I and Class II, Division 1 areas. For Type MC cables to qualify for installation in Class I and Class II Division I areas (Section 501-4(A) (1) (c & d), they must have a gas/vapor tight continuous corrugated aluminum sheath with a suitable plastic jacket over the sheath. They must also contain equipment grounding conductors and listed termination fittings must be used where the cables enter equipment. Type MC Cable employing an impervious metal sheath without overall nonmetallic coverings may be installed in ducts or plenums used for environmental air in accordance with Section 300.22(B) and may be installed in other space used for environmental air in accordance with Section 300.22(C). The maximum support spacing is 6 feet (1.83 m).
Type TC Cable: Power and control tray cable (Article
336). This cable type was added to the 1975 NEC®(as
an item associated with the revision of Article 318-Cable Trays). Type TC cable is a multiconductor cable with a flame retardant nonmetallic sheath that is used for power, lighting, control, and signal circuits. It is the most common cable type installed in cable tray for 480 volt feeders, 480 volt branch circuits, and control circuits. Where Type TC cables comply with the crush and impact requirements of Type MC cable and is identified for such use, they are permitted as open wiring between a cable tray and the utilization equipment or device. In these instances where the cable exits the tray, the cable must be supported and secured at intervals not exceeding 6 feet (See Section 336.10(6)). The service record of UL listed Type TC cable where properly applied and installed has been excellent.
For those installations where the NEC®allows its use,
a cost savings is realized by using Type TC cables instead of Type MC cables. Type TC cable may be installed in cable tray in hazardous (classified) industrial plant areas as permitted in Articles 392, 501, 502, 504 and 505 provided the conditions of maintenance and supervision assure that only qualified persons will service the installation [See Section 336.10(3)].
Where a cable tray wiring system containing Type TC cables will be exposed to any significant amount of hot metal splatter from welding or the torch cutting of metal during construction or maintenance activities, temporary metal or plywood covers should be installed on the cable tray in the exposure areas to prevent cable jacket and conductor insulation damage. It is desirable to use only quality Type TC cables that will pass the IEEE 383 and UL Vertical Flame Tests (70,000 BTU/hr). Type TC cable assemblies may contain optical fiber members as per the UL 1277 standard. C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
Type ITC Cable: Instrumentation Tray Cable (Article 727). Although this was a new cable article in the 1996
NEC®, it is not a new type of cable. Thousands of miles
of ITC cable have been installed in industrial situations since the early 1960’s. This is a multiconductor cable that most often has a nonmetallic jacket. The No. 22 through No. 12 insulated conductors in the cables are 300 volt rated. A metallic shield or a metallized foil shield with a drain wire usually encloses the cable’s conductors. These cables are used to transmit the low energy level signals associated with the industrial instrumentation and data handling systems. These are very critical circuits that impact on facility safety and on product quality. Type ITC cable must be supported and secured at intervals not exceeding 6 feet [See Section 727.4].
Type ITC Cable may be installed in cable trays in hazardous (classified) areas as permitted in Articles 392, 501, 502, 504 and 505. It states in Article 727 that Type ITC cables that comply with the crush and impact requirements of Type MC cable and are identified for such use, are permitted as open wiring in lengths not to exceed 50 ft. between a cable tray and the utilization equipment or device. Where a cable tray wiring system containing Type ITC cables will be exposed to any significant amount of hot metal splatter from welding or the torch cutting of metal during construction or maintenance activities, temporary metal or plywood covers should be installed on the cable tray to prevent cable jacket or conductor insulation damage. It is desirable to use only quality Type ITC cables that will pass the IEEE 383 and UL Vertical Flame Tests (70,000BTU/hr).
Type PLTC Cable: Power-Limited Tray Cable (Sections 725-154(C), and 725-154(E)). This is a multiconductor cable with a flame retardant nonmetallic sheath. The No. 22 through No. 12 insulated conductors in the cables are 300 volt rated. A metallic shield or a metallized foil shield with drain wire usually encloses the cable's conductors. This cable type has high usage in communication, data processing, fire protection, signaling, and industrial instrumentation wiring systems.
There are versions of this cable with insulation and jacket systems made of materials with low smoke emission and low flame spread properties which make them desirable for use in plenums. In Industrial Establishments where the conditions of maintenance and supervision ensure that only qualified persons service the installation and where the cable is not subject to physical damage Type PLTC cable may be installed in cable trays hazardous (classified) areas as permitted in Section 501.10(B)(1), 501.10(B)(4) and 504.20. Type PLTC cables that comply with the crush and impact requirements of Type MC cable and are identified for such use, are permitted as open wiring in lengths not to exceed a total of 50 ft. between a cable tray and the utilization equipment or device. In this situation, the cable needs to be supported and secured at intervals not exceeding 6 ft. Where a cable tray wiring system containing Type PLTC cables will be exposed to any significant amount of hot metal splatter from welding or the torch cutting of metal during construction or maintenance activities, temporary metal or plywood covers should be installed
on the cable tray to prevent cable jacket and conductor insulation damage. It is desirable to use only quality Type PLTC cables that will pass the IEEE 383 and UL Vertical Flame Tests (70,000 BTU/hr). Type PLTC cable assemblies may contain optical fiber members as per the UL 1277 standard.
Optical Fiber Cables (Article 770). The addition of optical fiber cables in the Section 392.10(A) cable list for the 1996 NEC was not a technical change. Optical fiber cables have been allowed to be supported in cable trays as per Section 770.6. Optical fibers may also be present in Type TC cables as per UL Standard 1277.
For the 1999 NEC® code, Article 760 - Fire Alarm
Cables and Articles 800 - Multipurpose and Communications Cables were added to the list of cables permitted to be installed in cable tray systems.
For the 1993 NEC®, the general statement in the 1990
NEC® which allowed all types of raceways to be
supported by cable trays was replaced by individual statements for each of the ten specific raceway types that may now be supported by cable tray. The chances of any such installations being made are very low, since strut is a more convenient and economic choice than cable tray to support raceway systems.
392.10. Uses Permitted. (B) In Industrial Establishments.
This section limits the installation of single conductor cables and Type MV multiconductor cables in cable trays to qualifying industrial establishments as defined in this section.
Per the 2002 NEC®solid bottom cable trays are now
permitted to support single conductor cables only in
industrial establishments where conditions of
maintenance and supervision ensure that only qualified persons will service the installed cable tray system. However, at this time, no fill rules for single conductor cables in solid bottom cable tray have been established. [see Section 392.10(B)]
392.10. Uses Permitted. (B) In Industrial Establishments. (1) Single Conductor.
Section 392.10(B)(1) covers 600 volt and Type MV single conductor cables.
There are several sections which cover the requirements for the use of single conductor cables in cable tray even though they only comprise a small percentage of cable tray wiring systems. Such installations are limited to qualifying industrial facilities [See Section 392.10(B)]. Many of the facility engineers prefer to use three conductor power cables. Normally, three conductor power cables provide more desirable electrical wiring systems than single conductor power cables in cable tray (See Section 392.20. Cable and conductor installation - three conductor vs. single conductor cables). C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
Single conductor cable shall be No. 1/0 or larger and shall be of a type listed and marked on the surface for use in cable trays. Where Nos. 1/0 through 4/0 single conductor cables are used, the maximum allowable rung spacing for ladder cable tray is 9 inches.
Welding cables shall comply with Article 630, Part IV which states that the cable tray must provide support at intervals not to exceed 6 inches. A permanent sign must be attached to the cable tray at intervals not to exceed 20 feet. The sign must read “CABLE TRAY FOR WELDING CABLES ONLY”.
This section states that single conductors used as equipment grounding conductors (EGCs) in cable trays shall be No. 4 or larger insulated, covered or bare.
The use of a single conductor in a cable tray as the EGC is an engineering design option. Section 300.3(B) states that all conductors of the same circuit and the EGC, if used, must be contained within the same cable tray.
The other options are to use multiconductor cables that each contain their own EGC or to use the cable tray itself as the EGC in qualifying installations [see Section 392.60(A)]
If an aluminum cable tray is installed in a moist environment where the moisture may contain materials that can serve as an electrolyte, a bare copper EGC should not be used. Under such conditions, electrolytic corrosion of the aluminum may occur. For such installations, it is desirable to use a low cost 600 volt insulated conductor and remove the insulation where connections to equipment or to equipment grounding conductors are made. (See Section 392.60. Grounding and Bonding, for additional information on single conductors used as the EGC for cable tray systems).
392.10. Uses Permitted. (B) In Industrial Establishment (2) Medium Voltage.
Single and multiconductor type MV cables must be sunlight resistant if exposed to direct sunlight. Single conductors shall be installed in accordance with 392.10(B)(1)
392.10. Uses Permitted. (C) Hazardous (Classified) Locations.
This section states that if cable tray wiring systems are installed in hazardous (classified) areas, the cables that they support must be suitable for installation in those hazardous (classified) areas. The cable carries the installation restriction. The installation restriction is not on the cable tray except that the cable tray installations
must comply with Section 392.12. The following is an explanation of the parts of the code which affect the use of cable tray in hazardous locations.
501.10.Wiring Methods - Listed Termination Fittings. (A) Class I, Division 1 (Gases or Vapors). 501.10(A)(1)(b) Type MI cable may be installed in cable tray in this type of hazardous (classified) area.
501.10(A)(1)(c) allows Type MC-HL cables to be installed in Class I, Division I areas if they have a gas/vapor tight continuous corrugated aluminum sheath with a suitable plastic jacket over the sheath. They must also contain equipment grounding conductors sized as per Section 250.122 and listed termination fittings must be used where the cables enter equipment.
501.10(A)(1)(d) allows Type ITC-HL cable to be installed in Class I, Division I areas if they have a gas/vapor tight continuous corrugated aluminum sheath with a suitable plastic jacket over the sheath and provided with termination fittings listed for the application.
501.10.Wiring Methods. (B) Class I, Division 2 (Gases or Vapors). Types ITC, PLTC, MI, MC, MV, or TC cables may be installed in cable tray in this type of hazardous (classified) area. Under the conditions specified in Section 501.15(E), Cable seals are required in Class 1, Division 2 areas. Cable seals should be used only when absolutely necessary.
501.15.Sealing and Drainage. (E) Cable Seals, Class 1, Division 2. (1) Cables will be required to be sealed only where they enter certain types of enclosures used in Class 1, Division 2 areas. Factory sealed push buttons are an example of enclosures that do not require a cable seal at the entrance of the cable into the enclosure.
501.15.Sealing and Drainage. (E) Cable Seals, Class 1, Division 2. (2) Gas blocked cables are available from some cable manufacturers but they have not been widely used. For gas to pass through the jacketed multi-conductor cable's core, a pressure differential must be maintained from one end of the cable to the other end or to the point where there is a break in the cable's jacket. The existence of such a condition is extremely rare and would require that one end of the cable be in a pressure vessel or a pressurized enclosure and the other end be exposed to the atmosphere. The migration of any significant volume of gas or vapor though the core of a multiconductor cable is very remote. This is one of the safety advantages that cable tray wiring systems have over conduit wiring systems. There are documented cases of industrial explosions caused by the migration of gases and vapors through conduits when they came in contact with an ignition source. There are no known cases of cables in cable tray wiring systems providing a path for gases or vapors to an ignition source which produced an industrial explosion.
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501.15.Sealing and Drainage. (E) Cable Seals, Class 1, Division 2. (3)
Exception: Cables with an unbroken gas/vapor-tight continuous sheath shall be permitted to pass through a Class 1, Division 2 location without seals.
This is an extremely important exception stating that cable seals are not required when a cable goes from an unclassified area through a classified area then back to an unclassified area.
501.15.Sealing and Drainage. (E) Cable Seals, Class 1, Division 2. (4)
If you do not have a gas/vapor-tight continuous sheath, cable seals are required at the boundary of the Division 2 and unclassified location.
The sheaths mentioned above may be fabricated of metal or a nonmetallic material.
502.10.Wiring Methods. (A) Class II, Division 1 (Combustible Dusts).
Type MI cable may be installed in cable tray in this type of hazardous (classified) area.
The Exception allows Type MC cables to be installed in Class II, Division 1 areas if they have a gas/vapor tight continuous corrugated aluminum sheath with a suitable plastic jacket over the sheath. They must also contain equipment grounding conductors sized as per Section 250.122 and listed termination fittings must be used where the cables enter equipment.
502.10.Wiring Methods. (B) Class II, Division 2 (Combustible Dusts).
This section states:
Type ITC and PLTC cables may be installed in ladder or ventilated cable trays following the same practices as used in non-hazardous (unclassified) areas. No spacing is required between the ITC or PLTC cables. This is logical as the ITC and PLTC cable circuits are all low energy circuits which do not produce any significant heat or heat dissipation problems.
Type MC, MI and TC [See Section 336.4(3)] cables may be installed in ladder, ventilated trough, or ventilated cable channel, but they are not allowed to be installed in solid bottom cable trays.
Required Spacing in Cable Trays for Type MC, MI & TC Cables in Class II, Division 2 Hazardous (Classified) Areas
Note 1. The cables are limited to a single layer with spacing between cables equal to the diameter of the largest adjacent cable. This means that the cables must be tied down at frequent intervals in horizontal as well as vertical cable trays to maintain the cable spacing. A reasonable distance between ties in the horizontal cable tray would be approximately 6 feet (See Section 392.30(B).
Note 2. Spacing the cables a minimum of 1 inch from the side rails to prevent dust buildup is recommended. This is not an NEC requirement but a recommended practice.
Where cable tray wiring systems with current carrying conductors are installed in a dust environment, ladder type cable trays should be used since there is less surface area for dust buildup than in ventilated trough cable trays. The spacing of the cables in dust areas will prevent the cables from being totally covered with a solid dust layer. In dusty areas, the top surfaces of all equipment, raceways, supports, or cable jacket surfaces where dust layers can accumulate will require cleanup housekeeping at certain time intervals. Good house-keeping is required for personnel health, personnel safety and facility safety. Excessive amounts of dust on raceways or cables will act as a thermal barrier which may not allow the power and lighting insulated conductors in a raceway or cable to safely dissipate internal heat. This condition may result in the accelerated aging of the conductor insulation. A cable tray system that is properly installed and maintained will provide a safe dependable wiring system in dust environments.
Exception: Type MC cable listed for use in Class II,
Division I locations shall be permitted to be installed without the above spacing limitations. This was a new
exception for the 1999 NEC®code.
For this type of wiring there is no danger of the cables being overheated when covered with dust. The current flow in these circuits is so low that the internally generated heat is insufficient to heat the cables and cable spacing is not a necessity. Even under such conditions, layers of dust should not be allowed to accumulate to critical depths as they may be ignited or explode as the result of problems caused by other than the electrical system.
502.10(B)(3).Nonincendive Field Wiring
Wiring in nonincendive circuits shall be permitted using any of the wiring methods suitable for wiring in ordinary locations.
503.10.Wiring Methods. (A) Class III, Division 1 and (B) Class III, Division 2 (Ignitable Fibers or Flyings). Type MI or MC cables may be installed in cable tray in these types of hazardous (classified) areas. The installations should be made using practices that minimize the build-up of materials in the trays. This can be done by using ladder cable tray with a minimum spacing between the cables equal to the diameter of the largest adjacent cable. In some cases, a greater spacing between cables
D1 D1 D2 D2 D2 D1 D1 D1 D3 C a b le T ra y M a n u a l
than that based on the cable diameters might be desirable depending on the characteristics of the material that requires the area to be classified. Here again, it must be emphasized that good housekeeping practices are required for all types of wiring systems to insure the safety of the personnel and the facility.
504.20.Wiring Methods. This section allows intrinsically safe wiring systems to be installed in cable trays in hazardous (classified) areas. Section 504.30 specifies the installation requirements for intrinsically safe wiring systems that are installed in cable trays. Section 504.70 specifies the sealing requirements for cables that may be part of a cable tray wiring system. Section 504.80(B) states that cable trays containing intrinsically safe wiring must be identified with permanently affixed labels.
Cable trays are ideal for supporting both intrinsically safe and nonintrinsically safe cable systems as the cables may be easily spaced and tied in position or a standard metallic barrier strip may be installed between the intrinsically and nonintrinsically safe circuits.
505.15.Wiring Methods. This section was added to the
2002 NEC®to explicitly permit cable trays in hazardous
areas classified by the international zone system, if the cables comply with the cable requirements for zone locations.
392.10. Uses Permitted. (D) Nonmetallic Cable Tray.
There are limited numbers of applications where nonmetallic cable trays might be preferred over metallic cable trays for electrical safety reasons and/or for some corrosive conditions. An example of an electrical safety application would be in an electrolytic cell room. Here, the amperages are very high and significant stray current paths are present. Under such conditions, there is the possibility for a high amperage short circuit if a low resistance metallic path (metallic cable tray or metallic raceway) is present [See information under Section 392.5(F) Nonmetallic Cable Trays].
392.12. Uses Not Permitted.
This is the only place in the NEC®where all the various
types of cable tray have limitations on their place of use. No cable trays can be used in hoistways or where subject to severe physical damage. The designer must identify the zones of installation where a cable tray might be subjected to severe physical damage. Usually such areas are limited and provisions can be made to protect the cable tray by relocating it to a more desirable location or as a last resort to provide protection using the appropriate structural members.
Metallic cable trays may support cable types approved for installation in ducts, plenums, and other air-handling spaces as per Section 300.22(B) and the cable types approved for installation in Other Space Used for Environmental Air as per Section 300.22(C).
The second sentence of Section 300.22(C)(1) is as follows:
Other types of cables and conductors shall be installed in electrical metallic tubing, flexible metallic tubing, intermediate metal conduit, rigid metal conduit without an overall nonmetallic covering, flexible metal conduit, or, where accessible, surface metal raceway or metal wireway with metal covers or solid bottom metal cable tray with solid metal covers.
Reprinted with permission from NFPA 70-2011, the
National Electrical Code®, Copyright© 2010, National
Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA 02169. This reprinted material is not the complete and official position of the National Fire Protection Association, on the referenced subject which is represented only by the standard in its entirety.
This part of Section 300.22(C) is confusing. The statement as underlined in the above paragraph leads some to assume, for installations in Other Spaces Used for Environmental Air, that the types of insulated single conductors which are installed in raceway installations may also be installed in solid bottom metal cable trays with metal covers. This is not so. Only the appropriate multiconductor cable types as per Section 392.10(A) may be installed in solid bottom cable trays.
Cable tray may be used to support data process wiring systems in air handling areas below raised floors as per Sections 300.22(D) and 800.52(D).
392.18. Cable Tray Installation. (A) Complete System.
This section states that cable tray systems can have mechanically discontinuous segments, and that the mechanically discontinuous segment cannot be greater than 6 feet. A bonding jumper sized per Section 250.102 is necessary to connect across any discontinuous segment. The bonding of the system should be in compliance with Section 250.96.
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Cable Tray Elevation Change Without Fittings Bonding